From Kook Science
Paul Heilbrun was, according to a widely circulated newspaper accounting, an employee of the Southern Pacific Railroad at Portland, Oregon who claimed in 1896 to have devised an air-powered engine that operated only on "air generated through its own motion," described as a perpetual motion machine, which, at the time of the report, had apparently run continuously for four years.
- "PORTLAND INVENTION. Self-Propelling Engine Said to Have Been in Constant Operation for Four Years.", San Francisco Call (San Francisco, CA): 4, 10 Nov. 1896, https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SFC18961110.2.78&txq=%22Paul+Heilbrun%22
PORTLAND, Oh., Nov. 9. — Paul Heilbrun, an employe of the Southern Pacific Company, claims he has solved the problem of perpetual motion. This creator — for he cannot be classed as an inventor — says that in 1891 he perfected an engine that ran 365 successive days by air generated through its own motion.
At the expiration of that time it ceased operation because of a scarcely perceptible leakage in one of the air-generative tubes. It was three months ere he discovered this trouble. Now, he says, the engine has been running four years without cessation by the self-generating air process alone.
"None but my wife and myself have set eyes upon my great work," said Mr. Heilbrun to-day, "and none shall, till I return from Washington City with a patent. I shall endeavor to patent every minute detail of my work so as to escape future litigation with imitators. Regarding my work I'll say this without bashfulness, that it will supersede electricity and steam. The generation of air, according to my process, costs nothing, and my engine will ceaselessly operate till it is physically worn out. That's practically perpetual motion, isn't it?"
Mr. Heilbrun predicts that in the course of a few years engines after his own model, but with improvements suggested by brilliant creative minds, will supplant all other motive power. His enthusiasm leads him to prophesy that before the close of the current century ocean steamships and transcontinental railway trains will be operated by this power, and with much more safety than by steam or electricity.
Mr. Heilbrun is now past 60 years of age, and when the idea first struck him that the construction of a perpetual motion engine was a possibility he had a fortune of $40,000. All this, besides his spare earnings, he exhausted in experimenting, and in visiting others riding the same hobby in other parts of the world, wherever he believed he could learn something.